A Year of Change and New Beginnings

The year end is a good time to share a bit more about myself, about this blog, and learn more about you. Skeptic Geek started four months ago. Discounting FriendFeed, Feedburner says there are already about 100 “true” subscribers. This really is a surprise.

I come from a world of cubicle farms in the software outsourcing industry and am a complete newbie in the social web. I joined:

My last stay in the US during ‘06-‘08 was to manage the development of a website for the largest automaker in America. The project was to provide 5 million+ auto financing customers with an account self-service website in order to reduce call-center costs. More recently, I worked in embedded software, working with real-estate developers in India to build intelligent digital homes.

My career has been in project management (requirements gathering, people management, scheduling, risk management, etc.), competitive research, proposals, business development and so on. I lived amidst J2EE, EAI, and RFPs. Two years ago, I had not even heard of Twitter or FriendFeed.

In other ways, by some standards, I am a veteran. I sent my first email in ‘89 from India when there were no ISPs here, and browsed the web with Netscape Navigator for the first time in ‘95 from Berlin. The first “computer” I handled was a Sinclair ZX-81, and the first PC in my home was a PC-XT with a 20 MB hard disk. In college, I learnt assembly language programming with the 8085 and 8086 microprocessors.

As you can imagine, this year has been a change in many ways. Taking a break from the enterprise software world, I ventured as a freelancer on the web. My experience is indeed useful to my work, but I found that I had to make a fresh beginning. You might manage a million dollar software project within budget on time, but a high-school tech enthusiast may be better informed, better networked, and write faster blog posts than you.

I started my personal blog on WordPress.com in Apr ‘07. For the past two years, my personal blog has been an enjoyable hobby for expressing my varied interests. I was a complete stranger in the tech blogging world when I started writing for MakeUseOf.com in Apr ‘09. After a few months, I joined Techmeme. It has been a good year and I feel grateful.

The social network I am most indebted to is FriendFeed. It offered me some of the best and brightest tech minds to network with on a platter. My networking journey, if it were to happen via any other network like LinkedIn, might have taken years. FriendFeed accelerated it to a few months. I have made many good friends there and elsewhere, many of whom have kindly added me to their Twitter Lists.

Road Ahead

These are my humble beginnings this year. I started this blog as a parking lot for my thoughts about online tech developments. My writing at MakeUseOf is for a non-geeky audience, and I wanted a place to pen more insightful posts. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that there would be anyone interested enough to subscribe. While I don’t want to write blog posts under any obligatory pressure, I do want to write regularly, at a slower pace of about a post per week or ten days. At this moment, it’s a long road ahead, and I don’t know what’s lying in store after the next bend.

Are you really out there, dear subscriber? If you would be so kind to let me know, I would be obliged. Do you have any feedback about my posts so far or about the blog in general? Would it be interesting if I bring an occasional India-specific tech angle in my writing that might be amusing or interesting to western audiences? Should I continue writing at all?

Finally, here’s wishing you a Very Happy Christmas and New Year! May we all enjoy a peaceful, connected, and exciting 2010!

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  • http://vikas-gupta.in Vikas|vikas-gupta.in

    Email in '89!! Wow! That's so unimaginable for me!

    I think you can and should write a post on India-specific tech angle and the like. And keep writing. You have humbly asked if you should continue writing at all LOL!

    Sometimes I wonder where all subscribers go ( I have about 135-140 subscribers) and you have some 500!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to You! :)

    P.S.: AdSense on personal blogs doesn't earn much! In 5 days I have got 1.30 dollars! Not bad! It will pay my hosting bills if not anything else.

  • http://www.victusspiritus.com/ Mark Essel

    I started blogging in February at typepad, but my first real tweet (and friendfeed) were later on (March?). Although I share a new perspective on this space, we have both chosen very different methods of embracing it.

    You have a gift in capturing the essence of the tools you work with. Social media (certainly Friendfeed, twitter) are evolving channels and you understand how best to discover the information you find most useful.

    I tend to read much of what my friends suggest (minus you and Louis Gray, I could never keep up with all of your suggestions).

    Fantastic year, and I look forward to many more of enjoying your great work.

    (ps any specific posts you want to make from your perspective would be much appreciated)

  • http://www.skepticgeek.com Mahendra

    Yes, in those days, for internet access you needed a VSAT dish from VSNL. :)

    I do dream of adding some value to my readers and feedback is the fuel that keeps one going. So thank you for the feedback and encouragement!

  • http://www.skepticgeek.com Mahendra

    Mark, I didn't know you started on the social web this year! Somehow it always felt you were an old-timer.

    The difference you mention in how we embrace these tools is insightful and perceptive. I think it relates to the Google vs. Facebook, search vs. discovery models of consuming information. This is a very interesting and on-going thread in my mind as revealed in my recent posts. Thank you for highlighting it.

    The feeling of “looking forward to” is mutual. I love reading your blog and following your experiments. Keep up the excellent work!

    I will give myself a freer hand in the future based on the feedback I'm getting. :)

  • http://meyogi.blogspot.com/ Ranjeeth

    “Would it be interesting if I bring an occasional India-specific tech angle in my writing that might be amusing or interesting to western audiences?”

    Please do. I would love to read such stuff. We need more people writing about startups, tech developments in India.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!

  • http://www.victusspiritus.com/ Mark Essel

    I thought you had been around a while as well :). You certainly write and analyze like a pro, I'm jealous of your talent.

  • http://www.victusspiritus.com/ Mark Essel

    I agree Ranjeeth. Even though I'm based in the US, I see opportunities of startup harmony globally. Quality information, and social web evolution are ubiquitous. Mahendra's posts are in the top 1% of all bloggers I read.

    I have found strong patterns between the way he and Louis Gray, and Robert Scoble all analyize web info flow. Brilliant all around tech journalism and discovery.

  • http://gamebashing.com chupchap

    @ScepticGeek That was definitely an interesting read. Though I've been following you on twitter and friendfeed, I didn't know much about you =P To be honest, I spend more time reading your shared items on google reader than on your blog. Thanks for making my reader experience much better =) I wouldn't want you to change a thing about your writing, keep it coming =)

  • wladia

    Hi!
    Just another reader giving you the feedback you asked. So, I subscribed Skeptic Geek in the second half of August, I'm not sure if I came from MUO or from a RT… anyway, I read a few posts and hit the RSS button. And of course, decided to keep it on my reader, since the posts are about interesting themes and quite comprehensive. And YES, definitely, keep on doing the excellent work.
    Happy New Year!

  • http://www.skepticgeek.com Mahendra

    Ranjeeth, writing specifically about Indian startups was not on my mind, since I'm not up to speed with the tech scene in India. But thanks for your feedback, I will give it serious thought.

    Wish you and your family a very happy new year too!

  • http://www.skepticgeek.com Mahendra

    Balu, thanks for the feedback. Since Google Reader doesn't have RT-style psychological affirmation, it's always nice to know someone follows your shared items! :)

  • http://www.skepticgeek.com Mahendra

    Dear wladia, thank you for the comment! It is indeed nice to get to know your readers, and I appreciate your taking the time to share feedback.

    Wish you a very happy new year!

  • http://gamebashing.com chupchap

    =) I have set 'People you follow' as my default page in Google Reader. First I go through items shared by friends and then go on to read my other feeds. Helps speed up the whole catching-up process =D

  • Ajith

    Recently came to your site via your personal blog (via Stumble Upon) – Unquiet mind. Both very good and you have a good writing style. Don't give up on the writing. As for India focused tech postings – by all means do so but keep your global perspective. We have a million and one Indian tech blogs already. Keep up the good work and best wishes for a prolific 2010.

  • http://www.skepticgeek.com Mahendra

    Ajith, even if I try, I can't lose my global perspective. :)

    Thanks a lot for your feedback, and wish you the same!

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